by Chris Menahan, Information Liberation:
From Common Dreams:
During a press conference just hours after the US released video footage that purported to show an Iranian boat removing an unexploded mine from the side of an oil tanker, the Japanese owner of that vessel said Friday that the ship was likely damaged by a “flying object” and called claims of a mine attack “false.”
“I do not think there was a time bomb or an object attached to the side of the ship,” Yutaka Katada, president of the Japanese company that operates the Kokuka Courageous tanker, told reporters in Tokyo.
Katada’s account of the attack appeared to contradict the Trump administration’s suggestion that Iranian mines were responsible for the explosions that damaged the Kokuka Courageous and one other oil tanker in the Gulf of Oman on Thursday.
As Common Dreams reported Friday, major American media outlets uncritically propagated the U.S. military’s video footage and accompanying claims, despite widespread skepticism from independent critics and other nations.
In his first public comments on the oil tanker attacks, President Donald Trump said during a telephone interview on “Fox & Friends” Friday morning that “Iran did do it,” pointing to the U.S. military’s grainy video footage.
“You know they did it because you saw the boat,” Trump said. “You know they did it, because you saw the boat, I guess one of the mines didn’t explode and it’s probably got, essentially, Iran written all over it.”
But Katada said the crew members who were aboard the Kokuka Courageous at the time of the attack believe the vessel was damaged by “something [that] flew towards them.”
“That created the hole, is the report I’ve received,” Katada said. “It seems there was a high chance they were attacked by a flying object. The impact was well above the water. I don’t think it was a torpedo.”
Katada did not suggest a possible culprit, and the Japanese government is reportedly “gathering information” on the attacks before it reaches a conclusion.
Moon of Alabama speculated Friday that Iran may have carried out this attack in retaliation for the latest round of aggressive sanctions the US put on their biggest producer of petrochemical products.
The idea is that Iran knew it would be dismissed by most people as a false flag staged by their enemies.
From Moon of Alabama:
Iran will move against the interests of the U.S., Israel, Saudi Arabia and the UAE. It will do so in deniable form to give the U.S. and others no opening for taking military actions against it. Iran has friends in various countries in the Middle East who will support it with their own capabilities. The campaign Iran now launches will also create severe damage for other countries.
In mid 2018, after Trump began to sanction Iran’s oil exports, its leaders explained how it would counter the move:
“If one day they want to prevent the export of Iran’s oil, then no oil will be exported from the Persian Gulf,” [Rouhani] said.
In mid May 2019, one year after Trump destroyed the nuclear deal, a demonstration of capabilities damaged four tankers which anchored near Fujairah in the UAE. There was no evidence to blame the attack on Iran.
The incident was a warning. But the U.S. ignored it and increased the sanction pressure on Iran.
Yesterday two tankers with petrochemical products were attacked while crossing the Gulf of Oman. Coming only a few days after Trump sanctioned Iran’s petrochemical exports points to Iran’s involvement. But again no evidence was left in place to blame the incident on Iran.
The U.S. published a grainy black and white video which it says shows an Iranian Search and Rescue crew removing an unexploded limpet mine from one of the tankers. No mine in visible in the video. The Iranian crew seems to inspect the damage on the tanker.
The U.S. itself admits that the video was taken several hours after the incident. The U.S. also says that one of its ships was nearby. Why did it take no steps to remove the claimed mine itself?
[…] To say that the attacks were provocations by the U.S. or its Middle East allies is made easier by their evident ruthlessness. Any accusations by the Trump administration of Iranian culpability will be easily dismissed because everyoneknows that Trump and his crew are notorious liars.
This cat and mouse game will now continue and steadily gain pace. More tankers will get damaged or even sunk. Saudi refineries will start to explode. UAE harbors will experience difficulties. Iran will plausibly deny that it is involved in any of this. The U.S. will continue to blame Iran but will have no evidence to prove it.
Insurance for Middle East cargo will become very expensive. Consumer prices for oil products will increase and increase again. The collateral damage will be immense.
All this will gradually put more pressure on Trump. The U.S. will want to negotiate with Iran, but that will be rejected unless Trump rejoins the nuclear deal and lifts all his sanctions. He can not do that without losing face and his allies. By mid 2020 the maximum pressure campaign will reach its zenith. Oil prices will explode and the U.S. will fall into a recession. The world economy will tank and everyone will know who caused the underlying issue. Trump’s reelection will come into doubt.
There will also be pressure on Trump to take military action against Iran. But he knows that a war would be equally disastrous for his re-election chances, and for the United States. A war against Iran would put the whole Middle East in flames.
The maximum pressure Trump hoped to wage against Iran will turn into maximum pressure on him and his allies. He will be trapped and there will be no way out.
It’s an interesting theory, one which I could see playing out regardless of the facts with this particular case. One problem with it is I don’t see why the US would claim the attack was a limpet mine when it seems more like it was a drone, especially considering Iran is getting very adept at drone warfare.